H. Clay Evans Johnson, 89, died Tuesday at his Lookout Mountain home.
He was president of the Hamilton County Memorial Hospital Association from 1946 (five years prior to the opening of the Memorial Hospital) until 1984. The $2.9 million H. Clay Evans Johnson Cancer Center, which bears Mr. Johnson's name, opened in 1988.
Mr. Johnson spent his business career with Interstate Life and Accident Insurance Co., later part of the Gulf United Corp. He joined the company in 1933 and became president in 1946, succeeding his father, who founded the company in 1909. He stepped down as chairman of the board and president in 1972.
Interstate Life merged with Gulf United Corp. in 1980, and Mr. Johnson retired as a director and chairman of the executive committee in 1984.
Mr. Johnson was the grandson of H. Clay Evans, Chattanooga's first school commissioner and later its mayor. He was born to Dr. Joseph W. and Nell Evans Johnson on Oct. 11, 1911. He was educated at Bright School, the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut and Princeton University. He was married to Betty Mead Smartt of Chattanooga, and they had three children, Betsy, Barbara and Clay Jr. Mrs. Johnson died in 1980, and Mr. Johnson remarried in 1982.
He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, earning the rank of lieutenant commander. He was a deacon at Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church.
Mr. Johnson was honored throughout his adult life for his civic and charitable work.
He was named the Tennessee Outstanding Young Man of the Year by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1938-39, the Chattanooga Kiwanis Club's Man of the Year in 1958, Philanthropist of the Year by the Southeast Tennessee Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives in 1988 and Memorial Hospital's Humanitarian Award winner in 1998.
Mr. Johnson had served as president of the Association of Tennessee Life Insurance Companies, the Life Insurers Conference, the Chattanooga Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club of Chattanooga, the Citizens Taxpayers Association and WDOD Radio, and as a director of Hamilton National Bank. He was the first campaign chairman of the United Fund and later its president. He also had been chairman of the board of the University of Chattanooga Foundation, a private fund-raising arm for UTC, and a member of the board at Girls Preparatory School, the University of Chattanooga and the Future Chattanooga Development Corp.
Survivors include his wife, Gene Beasley Johnson; son, H. Clay Evans Johnson Jr.; two daughters, Elizabeth J. Patton and Barbara J. Prickett; grandchildren, Wayne E. Farmer, Knox S. Farmer, Elizabeth F. Black, Allison F. Prickett, Clay G. Prickett, Margaret F. Johnson and Katherine Johnson; and two great-grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held Friday at 2 p.m. at Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church, with the Rev. Joe V. Novenson officiating. Burial will be in Forest Hills Cemetery. Grandsons will serve as pallbearers. Visitation will be at the church at 1 p.m. Friday.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Memorial Hospital or a favorite charity. Arrangements are by Wann Funeral Home.